Local brothers aim to paddle 848 km against Aids

2010-04-07 00:00

TWO local brothers armed with a canoe and good intentions are planning an 848 km boat trip along the Meuse Canal from France to Amsterdam to raise funds and Aids awareness.

Craig Mustard, who lives in Pietermaritzburg, and his brother Mark Montanarini, who lives in Switzerland have both worked in close contact with people infected and affected by Aids. So when Mustard put forward the idea to paddle the route, his brother agreed on contition it is done for charity. They decided to do it under the name “Paddling against Aids”.

“My brother and his wife worked directly with Aids orphans and I work and teach canoeing in development areas with children from homes that are affected by Aids,” said Mustard.

The 16-day trip, which will begin on July 1, will raise funds for the Keep a Child Alive initiative.

Said Montanarini, “Paddling Against Aids is independent of Keep A Child Alive; however, they have sanctioned our fundraising efforts and are extremely appreciative of our commitment to raising funds on their behalf.”

The brothers will set off from Neufchateau in France, crossing through Germany and Belgium and ending their trip in Amsterdam in the Netherlands. They chose to do the trip overseas as “most rivers in Africa have already been run,” said Mustard.

Although the two have received much support from their group on Facebook, their efforts to raise funds have not been as fruitful.

“We were hoping to get international support, but it’s really tough overseas. Although people know about Aids, there it’s not as in your face as it is here. So we are hoping South Africans and Maritzburg locals and businesses will help. Canoeing is big in Maritzburg; we learnt to paddle here, so we want to try and get locals involved,” said Mustard.

The two are appealing to individuals and companies “to please get involved and support us in our endeavour by pledging to sponsor us for each completed kilometre — no amount will be too small — or alternatively by making a one-off donation into our bank account,” said Montanarini.

“We will also be selling advertising space on our life jackets, paddles and craft for those companies who would like to make it known that they support our cause and the fight against HIV and Aids,” he added.

The two have already raised R3 000, but are hoping to get R10 000. The money they receive will first be used to cover the costs of the trip (minus air fares) and all that is left will be donated to Keep a Child Alive. “We will use the money for some day-to-day accommodation when we are not able to camp, to buy a new boat, meals and train tickets to the airport,” said Mustard.

Mustard said he began his training about a month ago, “but the mental preparation is more important. I mean you can’t go in being a couch potato — your cardio has to be good — but the mental preparation pushes your body through”.

People interested in sponsoring the brothers should contact Mark Montanarini at +41  (0)79 281 5298 or mark.montanarini@gmx.ch, or Craig Mustard at 082 661 8729 or 074 1877 585, or mustardcraig@gmail.com



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